Paris, Day 15: Place de la Concorde and La Madeleine

On Monday, we went to the Place de la Concorde and La Madeleine, was originally a church built by Napoléon I dedicated to the glory of his army.
From the Place de la Concorde, you can see La Madeleine, l’Arc de Triomphe, the French National Assembly, the Louvre, and the Tuileries Gardens. The Place de la Concorde has a lot of history and I’m going to attempt to give you the highlights:
  • The name of this place was not always Place de la Concorde. This was place was where the guillotine–the contraption responsible for beheading thousands of people during the French Revolution–once stood. The square earned its name as we know it today uears after the French Revolution in an effort to leave behind the bloody memory. In case you were wondering, the translation of “concorde” means friendship…
  • The obelisk in the center of the Place de la Concorde was a gift from Egypt, not stolen (although Napoléon would take plenty of treasures from Egypt and bring them to Paris). The details of how the obelisk came to Paris are inscribed at its base–essentially it was brought on a barge from the Nile to the Seine. There were supposed to be two obélisks, but the process to bring in the first one was so arduous the second one was left behind.

Place de la Concorde
The lamp posts in Place de la Concorde are unique and only seen here. The double light fixture at the middle of each lamp post is supposed to look like a boat.
There are eight statues of ladies sitting in chairs bordering the Place de la Concorde, each one represents one of the major cities in France. The rumour is that there was a black veil on Strasbourg for a long time, because she is now part of Germany…
As far as La Madeleine goes, it was going to be converted into a train station, but the idea was dismissed. It still serves a church and a monument to Napoléon I and his army.

La Madeleine
If you look at this wax painting on the cupola, you can see Napoléon and his symbol, the falcon, on the bottom center.
Historical tidbits aside, it’s hard to ignore the beautiful display windows passing by Chanel and Dior….

One last bit of history–the place where the Lumière brothers made the first movie is now a Gap Kids store…
We also stopped by Opéra Garnier and discussed the architecture outside, but I was already well-versed in its history from the tour last week.

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A Francophile based in coastal New England

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